Data Visualization: Making Big Data Approachable and Valuable (Whitepaper)


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Enterprises today are beginning to realize the important role Big Data plays in achieving business goals. Concepts that used to be difficult for companies to comprehend—factors that influence a customer to make a purchase, behavior patterns that point to fraud or misuse, inefficiencies slowing down business processes—now can be understood and addressed by collecting and
analyzing Big Data. Learn more at:

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Data Visualization: Making Big Data Approachable and Valuable (Whitepaper)

  1. 1. WH IT E PA P E RData Visualization: Making Market PulseBig Data Approachableand ValuableA RE S E A RC H RE PORT DE TAI LI N G HOW OR GANIZATIONS AR EUS I N G D ATA VI SUALI ZATI ON TO S UCCEED WITH BIG DATAEnterprises today are beginning to realize the important Data software is as mature as it needs to be in order torole Big Data plays in achieving business goals. Concepts be accessible to business users at most enterprises,”that used to be difficult for companies to comprehend— says Paul Kent, vice president of Big Data with SAS. “So iffactors that influence a customer to make a purchase, you’re not Google or LinkedIn or Facebook, and you don’tbehavior patterns that point to fraud or misuse, inef- have thousands of engineers to work with Big Data, it canficiencies slowing down business processes—now be difficult to find business answers in the information.”can be understood and addressed by collecting and What enterprises need are tools to help them easilyanalyzing Big Data. The insight gained from such analysis and effectively understand and analyze Big Data.helps organizations improve operations and identify Employees who aren’t data scientists or analysts shouldnew product and service opportunities that they may be able to ask questions of the data based on their ownhave otherwise missed. In essence, Big Data promises business expertise and quickly and easily find patterns,to deliver the advantages that companies need to drive spot inconsistencies, even get answers to questions theyrevenue growth and gain a competitive edge. haven’t yet thought to ask. Otherwise, the effort and However, getting to that Big Data payoff is proving expense that companies invest in collecting and mininga difficult challenge for many organizations. Big Data Big Data may be challenged to yield significant actionableis often voluminous and tends to rapidly change and results. And companies run the risk of missing importantmorph, making it challenging to get a handle on anddifficult to access. The majority of tools available to workwith Big Data are complex and hard to use, and mostenterprises don’t have the in-house expertise to perform Big Data Challengesthe required data analysis and manipulation to draw out Lack of skills/expertise needed tothe answers that the business is seeking. In fact, in a 57% run analysis on all the datarecent survey conducted by IDG Research, when asked Too difficult to access all data and 50%about analyzing Big Data, respondents cite lack of skills make available to users for analysisand difficulty in making Big Data available to users as two Not effectively using our most 45%significant challenges. valuable data to drive decisions “A lot of existing Big Data techniques require you to Too difficult to analyze and 37%really get your hands dirty; I don’t think that most Big understand all of the data Too difficult to share information 22% and insights with others Running queries and reports 19% takes too long SOURCE: IDG RESEARCH SERVICES, AUGUST 2012
  2. 2. Market2 DATA VISUALIZ AT IO N: M A KING B IG D ATA A PPR O ACHAB L E AN D VAL UAB L E Pulsebusiness opportunities if they can’t find the answers thatare likely stored in their own data. Top Benefits of Data Visualization Tools» THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF DATA Improved decision-making 77%Why are some companies able to use Big Data totheir advantage, while others remain mired in reams Better ad-hoc data analysis 43%of information, but gain little insight? In many cases, Improved collaboration/ 41%those companies that have found success with Big information sharingData are using data visualization to help make sense Provide self-service 36%of the information. capabilities to end uers According to the IDG Research study, among the Increased ROI 34%respondents who say their organizations are highlyor somewhat effective at Big Data analysis, 58% have Time savings 20%already implemented, or are in the process of imple-menting, a data visualization solution; another 40% Reduced burden on IT 15%expect to implement one. Put another way, of those whoare most effective with Big Data, 98% have data visual- SOURCE: IDG RESEARCH SERVICES, AUGUST 2012ization squarely in their sights. Of those with data visual-ization solutions in place, or plans to implement, 68%intend to use their data visualization solution to report to reduce the time required to know where opportunities,and share information, and 60% plan to use the solu- issues, and risks reside in voluminous data.”tion for discovery. Compared with those who say their When combined with analytics, data visualization does this by enabling business users to quickly and easily explore data. This means that employees don’t have to be well-versed in analytics in order to work with Big Data;EM P L OY E E S WHO ARE N’T DATA S CIE NTIS TS OR line-of-business users can rely on their own expertise suchA N ALYS T S S HO ULD BE ABLE TO AS K Q UE STI ONS as marketing, finance, or supply-chain operations to askOF T HE DATA BAS E D O N THE IR O W N BUS INESS informed, specific questions of the data, gain insight fromEX P E RT I S E AN D Q UICKLY AND E AS ILY F IND the answers, and put those answers to use to improvePAT T E R N S, S P OT INCO NS IS TE NCIE S, E VE N GETA N S W E R S TO Q UE S TIO NS THE Y HAVE N’T YET the business.T H O UGHT TO AS K. Adding data visualization to a strong, successful core of analytics gives users the power to make the right busi- ness decisions. With visual analytics, business users canorganizations are not very/not at all effective at Big Dataanalysis, only 16% of these respondents have imple- Data Visualization: Visualization-based datamented a data visualization solution. Almost one-third of discovery solutions that offer highly interactive andthese respondents have no plans to do so. graphical user interfaces, are built on in-memory “A crucial element in minimizing the amount of time architectures, and are geared toward addressingneeded to understand data, visualization tools are business users’ unmet ease-of-use and rapid deploy-imperative [to] realizing the value from a Big Data initia- ment needs. These solutions typically enable userstive,” says Tammi Kay George, manager of R&D Program to explore data without much training, making them& Project Management at SAS. “When incorporated accessible by a wider range of employees than tradi-with approachable analytics capabilities from the onset, tional business analysis tools.organizations are empowered with focus and the ability
  3. 3. Market 3 DATA VISUALIZ AT IO N: M A KING B IG D ATA A PPR O ACHAB L E AN D VAL UAB L E Pulse drill down into data to confirm a hunch, spot patterns, HOPE FOR A understand trends, or figure out where a process went COL L A BOR ATI V E FU T URE wrong. And because these tools convey results visually, they are significantly easier to work with and derive value Companies that have deployed data visualization from than traditional analysis tools. By making use of all solutions to help derive value from Big Data are the data that an organization collects, data visualization finding that there are behind-the-scenes benefits gives users new perspectives for data analysis, allowing to using these tools. Not only does the combination them to look at more options and make more precise of strong analytics and data visualization give users decisions. Combining the power of visualization and the power to make the right business decisions, analytics with business users’ domain expertise gives it also facilitates the coming together of different enterprises innovative ways to improve the business, disciplines within an enterprise to help solve a or even launch new business initiatives. business problem. “The value of these tools is you can pull strands of insight out of a pile of data, which offers new ways of thinking,” says SAS’ Kent. “The very nature of showing users sets of Big Data in an interactive tool introducesNE AR LY HAL F O F IT PRO F E S S IO NALS S AY THAT them to new ways of thinking about something.”B OT H T HE B US I N E S S AND IT O RGANIZATIO N S In most organizations, IT staff is inundated withA RE DR I V I N G B U S INE S S INTE LLIGE NCE AND/OR requests from business users and analysts for differentD ATA AN ALY T I C S AT THE IR E NTE RPRIS E. sets of data, ad-hoc reports, and one-off requests for — I DG RE SEARC H SURVE Y O F 1 1 7 Q UALI F I ED information. With solutions focused on providing visu- IT PRO FE SSIO NALS, AUGUST 2012 alization of Big Data, IT can give users access to more information and allow them to leverage data visualization to progress through Big Data analysis at their own pace. Thanks to in-memory technologies, IT can load data and In a recent survey conducted by IDG Research— make it available for multiple users, who can dynamically in which a majority of respondents say they have explore the information, create reports, and share infor- or plan to implement data visualization solutions mation on their own. And IT staff is liberated to focus on for Big Data analysis—nearly half report that both other projects. the business and IT organizations are driving busi- ness intelligence and/or data analytics at their » TOOLS TO DEMYSTIFY BIG DATA enterprise. Data visualization allows IT to enable The combination of analytics and data visualization line-of-business users to quickly and easily work should be an integrated component of any business with Big Data, so that the two disciplines are lend- intelligence (BI) initiative to enable users to explore ing their own expertise to help address a business data, interact with it, apply analytics to understand or challenge. glean insights, and then share those insights in visu- ally appealing ways, so actions can be taken quickly to “Sometimes IT really struggles to introduce new improve the business. Key features of data visualization ideas to the business, like how to get a handle on solutions include: big piles of data,” says Paul Kent, vice president of Big Data with SAS. “IT could take this opportunity to load data into a visualization tool and sit with the Big Data: Data that is of such volume, variety, and business and say ‘We’ve loaded the data, but we velocity (or the pace at which it is changing) that it don’t know what it’s telling us. You know the data, puts an organization outside of its comfort zone to what does this mean?’ That will help get the busi- technically derive intelligence for effective decisions ness users invested.”
  4. 4. based on volume and frequency of required updates and scalability requirements, and providing a Web-based“ T HE V E RY N ATURE O F S HO W ING US E RS interface for IT management tasks.SE T S O F B I G DATA IN AN INTE RACTIVETO O L I N T R O DU CE S THE M TO NE W WAYS » REAPING THE BENEFITSOF T HI N K I N G A BO UT S O ME THING.” Making Big Data accessible to more users across the — PAUL K EN T, S AS enterprise in a way that’s easy and approachable isn’t an end in itself. The real benefits come from the insight revealed by analysis of Big Data, and how an organiza- tion capitalizes on those answers. In the IDG Research survey, of those organizations that are considering » Highly interactive graphics that incorpo- using data visualization, 77% of respondents citerate data visualization best practices. Solutions improved decision making as a top benefit, while 45%should automatically represent the data with the most cite better ad-hoc data analysis and 44% cite improvedappropriate visual for the type of data selected; provide collaboration.geographical map views for a quick understanding of “Inherently, business intelligence enables getting thegeospatial data; identify and explain the relationships right information to the right person at the right time andbetween variables; and offer a variety of analytic visuals in the right format so that action can be taken. Data visu-such as box plots, heat maps, and correlations. alization backed by analytics enables your BI solution to » Integrated, intuitive, approachable analytics empower better decisions faster,” says SAS’ George. “Wecapabilities. Solutions should remove the complexity live in a highly competitive world. If an organization can’tof data structures for nontechnical users so that they easily see and act on an opportunity or risk quickly—orcan explore and seek correlations on data sets; slice completely misses seeing it at all—that greatly impactsand dice multidimensional data by applying filters on any a company’s competitive advantage. Loss in revenue,level of a hierarchy; drill up and down through hierar- market share, shareholder value, and even legal implica-chies or expand and collapse entire levels; calculate new tions can result from not seeing the relationships, themeasures and add them to any view; and save views as outliers, the hidden gems in data.”report packages to share with others. With analytics and data visualization, enterprises can » Easy report building. Solutions should have a begin tapping into the value of Big Data to boost overallWeb-based, interactive interface so that users can easily effectiveness and realize a greater return on invest-preview, filter, or sample data prior to creating visualiza- ment. And enterprises that use data visualization can betions or reports and leverage drill-down capabilities. assured they are getting the best answers from the Big » In-memory processing capabilities. This is Data they collect, limiting missed business opportunitiesnecessary for fast access to Big Data and to deliver and helping them focus on strategic growth. ■answers to queries in seconds or minutes, instead ofhours or days. » Ability to easily distribute answers and COMPLIMENTARY WHITE PAPER FEATURINGinsight via mobile devices and Web portals. This DATA VISUALIZATION TIPS AND TRICKS |drives collaboration. SAS.COM/DATAVIZWHITEPAPER In addition, data visualization tools should be easy forIT staffs to deploy and manage in line with their existingpractices, while maintaining control and security overthe data. This means implementing enterprise-wide userauthentication and information authorization policies inaccordance with a company’s data governance rules,supporting data provisioning to in-memory servers